As a massive oil slick creeps ever closer to the Gulf Coast, officials in Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, Mississippi and Florida are bracing for the worst. The economic impact over miles of prime coast land has the potential to be catastrophic.
Officials say the slick from last week's offshore drilling rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico may have a devastating impact on one of the coastal states' most precious commodities -- shrimp -- and the entire industry that surrounds it. And state officials acknowledge that the oil's effect on travel and tourism to the area could be equally destructive.
Remember how offshore drilling was going to be so freakin' good for the economy? Remember how safe it was all going to be?
Of course, President Obama let himself get talked into this bad idea, but now there's probably some momentum behind the move to change his mind back. That momentum comes in the form of an oil slick the size of Delaware moving slowly, but unstoppably, toward the shores of the Gulf States. FOX reports that revenue of more than $441.8 million from shrimping and $65.5 billion from tourism alone will likely be lost. I chose FOX for a reason; even the network that all but took "drill baby, drill!" as their motto in 2008 can't put a happy face on this. This is 100%, unspinnably bad.
My point here isn't just to report the obvious -- that a huge environmental catastrophe is really, really bad -- but may be an even more obvious point; Republicans don't really have very good ideas. And that shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Republican ideas have become less proposals that might be good for the country and more advertising slogans to sell the Republican Party. "Drill baby, drill" was never going to bring down oil prices. It had no hope in hell of doing that and the Republicans knew it. But it was simple, easy to remember, and -- as a successful marketing campaign -- wouldn't be shown not to work until President McCain had already taken the Oath of Office. So "drill baby, drill!" it was.
Likewise, we need only look at recent events in Arizona for another example of economic disaster disguised as a Republican "good idea." Arizona's new "Papers please... Macht schnell! Schnell!" law stands to cost the state $2.7 billion in lost Mexican tourism alone, according to the Arizona Republic. And this in a state that's been so crushed by the economy that they seriously considered selling their State Capital building to plug the budget hole.
To the lost tourism and various boycotts, add the inevitable lawsuits -- from both sides. Not only are groups around the nation ready to sue to block the law, but the law itself calls on citizens to sue police if they believe the law isn't being enforced. The Arizona Attorney General's office is about to become the lawsuit capital of the United States. Lawyers stand to make a lot of money off this, but taxpayers can expect to pay through the nose. And now police will be housing undocumented (and documented, but yet to be proven so) people, instead of having the feds do it. Arizonans will now pay twice for every illegal alien caught in their state -- as well as paying for housing the inevitable American citizen, legal immigrant, or tourist caught up in the police state net. Brilliant.
What we can learn from all this is that, in addition to just being stupid, Republican ideas are really expensive. Hey, let's degregulate Wall Street! Let's invade Iraq! Let's spend boatloads of money on missile defense systems that don't work! Let's create a budget-busting Medicare drug plan, but not come up with any way to pay for it! Let's chase down illegal immigrants by asking everyone (OK, just Hispanics and people with accents) to prove they're a citizen! Let's drill baby, drill!
So you might save a lot of time and agony by just adding "Get out your wallets, because this is going to cost a lot of money" to any Republican argument for any Republican idea. Go ahead and add that to the pros and cons. Because, if you don't reach into your back pocket and pull out your wallet, that Republican bad idea will reach in and do it for you.
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